Someone Else's Feelings Aren't Yours to Own

Uncategorized Dec 29, 2020

Our feelings, whether good or bad, are our property. They fall within our boundaries. Our feelings are our responsibility; others’ feelings are their responsibility. If other people feel sad, it is their sadness. This does not mean that they do not need someone else to be with them in their sadness and to empathize with them. It does mean the person who is feeling sad must take responsibility for that feeling.

Sandy was confused about her boundaries because she felt responsible for her mother’s feelings. She felt like she had to change her mother’s anger to happiness by changing her own behavior. This puts Sandy’s mother’s anger in control of Sandy’s life.

If we feel responsible for other people’s feelings, we can no longer make decisions based on what is right; we will make decisions based on how others feel about our choices. If we are always trying to keep everyone happy, then we cannot make the choices required to live correctly and...

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No One Can Make You Feel Guilty — Guilt Trippers are Manipulators

Uncategorized Dec 29, 2020

When is the last time someone made you feel guilty even though you know you shouldn't have felt that way?

Guilt is a difficult emotion. It's not actually a feeling the way that sadness, anger or fear are. It's our conscience punishing us by saying "You are bad."

Guilt comes mainly from how we have been taught in our early socialization process. Because of this, sometimes we feel guilt when we shouldn't. Feelings of guilt can appear when we haven't done anything wrong, per se, but maybe we have violated some internal standard that we have been taught. We have to be careful about listening to guilt feelings to tell us when we are wrong, for often, the guilt feelings themselves are wrong.

Guilt distorts reality. Rather than feeling 'bad', we should consider the impact of our actions. Has my action actually hurt someone? Why do they feel hurt? Could I have done something differently? Should I have?

Sometimes we feel like we're doing something bad or something mean when we set ...

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How to Guard Yourself Against Unsafe Family Members

Uncategorized Dec 29, 2020

When I was still doing my old radio show, a woman called into our program and said that she was going to visit her family for Christmas. She was depressed because she knew her grandfather would make things miserable, just as he always did. She dreaded hearing his criticism of her and her lifestyle. We asked her why she had to listen to that, and she responded, “I just have to, that’s all. I have no choice. That is what he does.” 

This woman lost her freedom the minute she walked in the door of that family gathering. She didn’t realize that no one can take away your freedom: she chose to give it up. She was letting her grandfather have power over her, but what she didn’t realize is that she didn’t have to give him permission. She felt that the pressure from her family to just “take it” was so strong, that this is the place where she lost her choices.

As we kept talking, we quickly thought of several choices she could make: 

...

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How to Regain Positive Momentum after a Difficult Year

Uncategorized Dec 29, 2020

About 10 years ago, I was addressing an organization in the aftermath of a financial meltdown. We discussed why so many people were feeling down, defeated, and unable to perform at the levels they were used to. (It is amazing how just knowing that there is a reason for why you feel the way you do can be helpful. I wanted them to know that they weren’t crazy.) But then, I heard the words that I never want to hear.

“So, what you are telling us is that we are basically screwed,” an attendee said. “We are just going to feel this way until the economy is different. This is just the new normal.”

“Yes, you are right,” I said. “This has become the new normal. And that is exactly your problem.”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Your creative drives, the energy that you summon to go out and win, have shut down,” I said. “You feel that since you can’t control the economy, you can’t control anything....

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How to Help Someone Without Burning Yourself Out

Uncategorized Dec 29, 2020

Amy called Tina late one night needing a friend.

“He’s gone,” Amy said between sobs. “Dad passed an hour ago.”

Tina was heartbroken for her friend. Though offering condolences and prayers seemed appropriate, Tina wanted to do more for Amy. She couldn’t take away the pain Amy was experiencing, and she was busy with work and family obligations, yet she felt as though she needed to do more. This was one of her best friends.

Simply said, the way to comfort someone who is enduring a loss, going through a hard time or is recovering from addiction is to give them the support and structure they need to go through the process that is unavoidable.

Each of these instances requires a letting-go experience, a letting-go of defenses, control, the things that have been lost, emotions, niceties and the like. But to let go, someone has to be held up. The facilitator is the person who is the life support and the one who holds up the other person while they let go...

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Wise, Foolish or Evil: How to Know Who You're Dealing With

Uncategorized Dec 29, 2020

If you believe that you’re a responsible and loving person, it’s easy to assume that other people think like you. You think that they care about other people and how their actions affect those people. Since you have a concern about how what you do affects others, then it makes sense that everyone else is just like you, right? The truth is that not many people take responsibility for themselves or care about how their actions are affecting other people or the mission. Moreover, some are even worse than that, and they’re actually out to do you harm. If you don’t want to accept this reality, then you’re going to waste time, money, energy, and resources on people who will either squander or destroy it.

There are three types of people in the world, or rather, three styles of behavior that a person can exhibit in a particular time or context. Depending on whether you’re a psychiatrist, employer, a spouse or a judge, there are different ways of...

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How to Set Boundaries Within a Dysfunctional Family

Uncategorized Dec 28, 2020

Look at your own life situation and see where boundary problems exist with your parents and siblings. The basic question is this: Where have you lost control of your property? Identify those areas and see their connection with the family you grew up in, and you are on your way.

Identify the Conflict

Discover what dynamic is being played out. For example, what “law of boundaries” are you violating? Do you triangulate? Do you take responsibility for a sibling or parent instead of being responsible to them? Do you fail to enforce consequences and end up paying for their behavior? Are you passive and reactive toward them and the conflict?

You cannot stop acting out a dynamic until you understand what you are doing. “Take the log out” of your own eye. Then you will be able to see clearly to deal with your family members. See yourself as the problem and find your boundary violations.

Identify the Need That Drives the Conflict

You do not act in...

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When to Have Hope and When to End a Bad Relationship

Uncategorized Dec 27, 2020

One of the most crucial elements someone can bring to their life is hope. Among the most powerful forces in the universe, hope gives energy, sustenance, and direction to people to keep going, and to win against all odds. With hope, we can endure almost anything, and certainly more than if we lose it or never had it to begin with. In short, hope keeps us going.

And that can be a problem.

Hope keeps us going, but when you misspend it, hope can keep you going in the wrong direction, sometimes for a long time. And this brings up a crucial dilemma. If hope is necessary, is it ever right to give up hope? Said another way, when do we need to face the music and realize that a situation, a relationship, a job, is not going to make it? How do you decide if something truly is worth of your hope, and when to pull the plug?

In talking to others, I find that negotiating the “hope paradox” is one of the factors that separates the truly great and successful people from those who...

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Unsafe People Will Apologize Without Changing Their Behavior

Uncategorized Dec 27, 2020

"But he's really sorry this time," she said. "When I confronted him with what I knew, he cried and said he was so heartbroken about what he had done. I could tell he was really torn up about it."

My counselee was referring to her husband, whom she had discovered had been seeing another woman. She was being taken in by his "true pain" over what he had done and his promise never to do it again. However, he had made similar "confessions" countless times before. Each time, he was "so sorry." He cried and made very short-lived 180-degree turnarounds. This was the fourth time that he had been involved with another woman. And each previous time, he had been "sorry."

The truth is, however, that sorry is as sorry does. A synonym to sorry is repentance, and it means a true turnaround. But unlike the "spins" that this man had made, a true turnaround is one that lasts. That does not mean that there is perfect behavior after that point, but that the change is real and bears fruit over time.

To...

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I Want You to Frustrate People - Here's Why

Uncategorized Dec 24, 2020

I have some questions for you. 

Is someone else going to decide how next year goes? Is someone else going to stop you from living to your fullest potential?

Or... are you in charge?

That’s what I want for you. I want you to leave a trail of frustrated people in your wake in 2021. I want them to be frustrated because they have tried to control you, but you have asserted your independence, you have exercised your freedom, you have stood up for yourself, you have respected yourself… and because you have learned that you no longer have to hand over that power to anyone else.

I want you to see that you nearly always have a good choice… and it’s up to you to decide whether to exercise that choice.

I want you to be aware that whenever you feel yourself tempted to give that power to someone else, it’s because you believe that you need something from that person… and I want you to discover that there are better places and people to get what you...

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